tv Charlie Rose PBS May 17, 2010 11:00pm-12:00am EDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. to want, jeffrey katzenberg, the c.e.o. of dreamworks animation, tells us about 3-d and other things you might want to know about the future of movies. >> no one ever sets out to make a bad movie, but somehow or another most movies-- two-thirds of them, 75% of them-- they're actually not great. now, interestingly, in the animation field and it's... which has actually become the most successful genre, our whole process is very different. you know, we spend four or five years working on these stories. we have the ability to actually make them and remake them and remake them because they exist in story sketches before we actually spent a gazillion dollars to animate them. and, you know, you look at it and mostly we get it right. >> rose: we conclude this evening with bill mckibben, the
environmentalist whose new book is called "eaarth." >> that rain is coming harder. that stun is beating harder, and the temperature's going up. if you look at it from a satellite, there's a lot less white on top where all that ice is melted. this world is already changing fast and if we don't seize hold of every chance we get, it's going to change a lot faster. >> rose: kittsenberg and mckibben, next.
>> rose: jeffrey katzenberg is here, he's the c.e.o. of dreamworks animation. his studio went public in 2004 after spinning off from dreamworks s.k.g. which he founded with with steven spielberg and david geffen. here's a look at some of the films released by dreamworks animation over the past decade. >> do not get comfortable! your welcome is officially worn out. nrs, i'm gonna see this guy farquard right now and get you off my land and back where you came from. (cheers and applause) >> oh, yes! you're coming with me. >> i wished i could go to the wild! >> the wild? whoa? >> i toll you it was bad luck! >> the wild? are you nuts? that is the worst idea i've ever
heard. it's unsanitary. >> the penguins are going, why can't any >> the penguins are psychotic. >> come on! >> whoa! wow! >> wicked cool. >> animals are in the house. >> wow! >> oh, my goodness. >> shiny. >> yes! (screaming) >> oh, my, what horrible thing has happened here? look at these faces! they never knew what hit them! and now they're on the road to nowhere. >> just keep still! >> what? >> you're not dead? >> do i look dead? hey, man, they will wipe anything that moves. where are you headed? >> honey farms. i am on to something huge here.
>> i'm going to alaska, moose blood, crazy stuff, blows your head off. >> i'm going to tacoma. >> what about you? >> he really is dead. >> all right. >> oh, you know this. >> you're bluffing. you're bluffing. shifuu didn't teach you that. >> nope, i figured it out. >> those shields are good for another thing, noise, make lots of it to throw off a dragon's aim. all dragons have a limited number of shots. how many does a drungle have? >> five >> no, six. >> that's one for each of you! >> rose: what's the magic of animation. >> i think sort of two things,
maybe, one is is that it takes people to a place of pure imagination and every single thing you see in an animated movie in all of those films is from somebody's pure creativity. nothing exists. it's all dreamed. >> rose: when did you become in love with it? >> well, you know, my introduction to animation was 1984, my very first day on the job at the walt disney company. a went to michael eisner's office with my to-do list, went through and said "here are all the things." michael had made me head of the studios. i was out the door literally and he said "jeffrey, one second, come back here, there's one last thing i want to talk to you about." i walked over and he took me to the window and pointed to a building across the street. he said "you mow what they do over there?" i said "no." he said "that's where they make
the animated movies." i went "really. " and he said "yes, it's your problem." >> rose: (laughs) because they weren't making many? >> they were terrible! this was really the bottom of the bottom for the walt disney studios. the animated movies they were making were a disaster. "the black calderon" being the low point and the film they had just finished. so the place was... animation was just this huge, massive liability that nobody wanted to touch. >> rose: so what did you do? >> in this case there was this rather extraordinary thing that existed which is walt disney created this amazing, amazing vault, library, of his work and his work product. and so literally the archives which, you know, there's this wonderful man who looked after them over the years that i sort of went into and in a way he
left a... instructions. (laughs) and they were waiting for somebody to read it. and literally within those archives was a road map. and i used to say he left bread crumb it is size of volkswagens. you'd have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to be able to follow them. and so, you know, i considered myself a student of walt disney, i learned from walt disney. >> rose: what was his genius? >> storyteller. >> rose: it was, storyteller. >> the greatest storyteller. he had such a knack, such a sense of how to hit that chord of emotion and to understand that bringing life through animation it just has this great connection to all of us that to give life through drawings is a
very... is some kind of unique emotional attachment that we as human beings have. >> rose: you left the walt disney company. >> the next time michael eisner called me back to his office ten years later was to fire me. (laughs) >> rose: you've written about that. i want to talk about that later. probably the best thing that ever happened to you was michael eisner following you. >> and here's one of the lessons in this, i guess there are a couple of them. when he fired me, "the lion king" was the number one movie, "beauty and the beast" was the number one show on broadway and "home improvement" was the number one show on t.v. >> rose: on abc. >> so to get fired in failure is embarrassing. to get fired in success is humiliating. >> rose: (laughs) >> rose: so why did he do it? >> you'll have to ask him that question. but in the world of great lessons... >> rose: you know. he had to tell you. you come in, you have huge success, you here in the office and he says "you're fire." >> okay, whatever. so we'll move on.
>> rose: no, we're not moving on. we're staying right here. (laughter) >> you know, charlie, to this day i don't really... >> rose: you don't know? you don't know? >> i think maybe there was a sense of competitiveness where he felt there was just not enough room. my ambition was more than he was willing to accommodate. so how much of that's my fault and how much of that is his? you know, 16 years later i'll take 50% of the responsibility. but the great thing and i think probably one of the best lessons in life for me is that it's that classic things which one door closes and another opens because ten days after i left the walt disney studios i went into partnership with david geffen and steven spielberg and dreamworks, which has been, you know, just a rocket ship ride. >> rose: it was a perfect
partnership, was it snot. >> unbelievable. interestingly, if you would say today, what was the betting at the time that the three of us, these three egomaniacs, that we all could get in one sandbox and play together with one another and, you know, be partners which means sharing and accommodating and deferring to one another. well, we did. and... >> rose: okay, conventional wisdom would be the following: you are the guy who's going to run the place, david was going to sort of make the deals and steven was going to make the movies, that's the way it's going to work. >> right. and it did. >> rose: that's basically the wait's broken out. >> steven was the dreamer, david was the entrepreneur and i was the builder. >> rose: right. >> and we all to this day have so much respect for each other in those areas that it's very easy to defer. >> rose: because you respect them and you're prepared to listen to what they say and go with their judgment. >> rose: what jerk isn't going to listen to steven spielberg when he says to you "i don't think that's a good story,
jeffrey." who's stupid... nobody's that stupid. not even me. >> rose: did dreamworks... the dream of this new studio, did you reach your dream? >> when we started dreamworks, in order to make it work-- and this is where david was brilliant-- in order to do it, we needed $2 billion. in order to raise a billion dollars of equity and a billion dollars in the capital markets, it required us to paint a dream that was the sun, the stars, the moon and everything else in the universe. right? in order to be able to accomplish what we wanted to do, the promise had to be almost unachievable if not actually unachievable. >> rose: was that honest?
>> yeah, well, you know, listen, it's always great to fantasize about what... >> rose: you said all those investment bankers were going to back you, we're going to change the world. >> right. >> rose: and they believed you? >> yeah. >> rose: because of the talent at hand. >> and the good news is they made money so it was certainly profitable and paul allen who was our original investor and supported the company ended up getting a good return on his money. so it worked out for everybody. but in terms of the expectations we were never, ever, going to be able to live up to our own hype. >> rose: and you knew it? >> yeah. well, not at the beginning because... >> rose: (laughs) >> i'm too much the optimist. i'm sure david probably knew better. >> rose: where is dreamworks today, the motion picture company? >> well, so we have two companies. we have the animation company which is a publicly traded company, dreamworks animation. and so that's a sort of stand-aileen enterprise. then the dreamworks studio is 2.0, steven spielberg and stacy
schneider, his partner. and they have gotten financing from the reliance group out of india and they've started again and they've got six movies that are going into production on this summer. >> rose: but you had nothing to do with that? >> nothing to do with it. >> rose: you just run the animation thing? >> right. >> rose: what's the capitalization of that? >> about four billion. >> rose: so 3-d. >> uh-huh, you heard of it. >> rose: (laughs) , you know what i remember about you? i remember you coming to these conferences that you and i go together in different places talking about 3-d. in the beginning... i don't remember this. but it's said? the beginning you dismissed it. you said... >> well, actually no. what happens is that i went to see four and a half years ago now called "polar express." >> rose: oh, yes, tom hanks. >> tom hanks was in it, bob sim mepl kiss, that was new kind of
motion capture movie. and i saw it at this big i max theater in los angeles. and i found the experience of watching that movie one of the most unique, exhilarating things that i had ever felt in a movie theater. it just made me feel like it was on a roller coaster ride with him. i was in the middle of his story and it was just exhilarating and i came out of that just like mesmerized and a little freaked out about it because i didn't know anything about... you know, i made a little... we've made a 4-d ride at universal theme parks and so i worked in 3-d but i didn't really understand this new digital technology. so i pulled together a team of people from dreamworks animation sent them all down to see the movie and said to them "we've got to figure this out because i really do believe this will be the future for us."
and so really zemeckis to me is the one that kind of got my attention and made me pay attention to it. and, you know, i think it is... it's the most revolutionary thing to happen to the movies... >> rose: since color? >> literally. >> rose: because? >> because it is a story telling device. it enhances a great filmmaker, great storyteller, that allows them to put you into a story in a way that amplifies all of the feelings and emotions that he is create organize she is creating in her story telling, because that's what great story telling does, it puts you in the seat of a protagonist, makes you feel threatened if somebody is running after julia roberts with a pickax that you're scared as she is scared. marty scorsese in "the
departed." have you ever had more anxiety watching a movie before? he's brilliant and he uses sound and film and music and... to do all of these things. now, give him a new tool which is one that creates this immerseive world that he can actually put his audience into the middle of it and it makes all of those things even that much more compelling. and i'm excited to say marty scorsese starts shooting his first 3-d film in london next month. >> rose: what is it? >> you know, i don't know the project. >> rose: but is it for you? >> no, it's a live-action movie. >> rose: so the future of 3-d. take "avatar." you love "avatar." >> love it. >> rose: you've seen it like 12 times. >> five. >> rose: five. okay. you love what about it >> everything, everything. honestly i think jim cameron is a genius. he's an extraordinary, extraordinary storyteller and he
is a technologist and he's an artist and he takes... he's managed to take these tools and to use them in just the most exciting and compelling way possible and doesn't matter what i think, what matters is the world thinks because they have voted making this a $3 billion movie. >> rose: number two is his other movie "titanic". >> so there's an interesting thing. a guy makes the movie "titanic," biggest movie in the history of the movie business by 50%. goes away for 12 years. the rest of us guys all sort of meander around out there, we do our little this, our little that. a couple hundred million dollar hits here and there. and he comes back 12 years later brings a whole new technology with him, a whole set of cameras that he's developed and this and goes back at it, rolls the dice, as big as he did the last time and doubles his... i mean, it's 50% bigger than he was last time. >> rose: so this is roger ebert in "newsweek."
"3-d is a waste of a perfectly good dimension. hollywood's current crazy stampede today suicidal. it adds nothing essential to the movie going experience. for some it's an annoying distraction, for otherings it creates nausea and headaches and it's driven to sell expensive projection equipment and add a surcharge on already expensive movie tickets. it image is noticeably darker than 2d. it's unsuitable for groanup films of any seriousness." (laughs) well, you get the drift. >> he's not a fan. >> rose: (laughs) does she a point, though? >> you know, i... honestly, we can do go back to the introduction of color 70 years ago and i can read you literally an exact recitation of "color's a cheap trick, it's getting in the way of images." so certainly i think... roger's
a wonderful man and... >> rose: a great critic. >> one of the greats of all time. he doesn't love it. sorry. life moves on. snipe you can't win 100% of the time. >> you can't. >> rose: one person you know of doesn't like 3-d but you are committed to it and it's especially good for animation or not? >> oh, yeah, exceptional for animation because, again, all of our images are actually conceived and created and designed within the computer to begin with and it's... animation can probably do as much or more with it than anything. >> rose: wow. so you're optimistic about the movie business in general or not? >> i think the movie business has got some real challenges today. >> rose: okay, what are they? >> i'm optimistic about the animation side of the business but live action is a challenge because people aren't buying d.v.d.s the way they used to. they don't feel they need to own them. very few people buy these. >> rose: so the d.v.d. business
is gone? >> well, it's not gone but it's changed and it's meaningful change. >> rose: it was a real revenue source for the movie business. >> the biggest. people got used to buying a d.v.d. for $20. it was a big margin on it. now what people realize is you know what? mostly movies i'll watch once so i'll rent it, go get it on my little device, i'll see it for $2.50 at blockbuster, netflix will send it to me in the mail. >> rose: red box you can get it far dollar. >> right, you can go to red box and get it for a dollar. so it's not less people are watching them... >> rose: they're paying less. there's less movies being made because there's less of a market for movies, is that the bottom line? >> they're not profitable. >> rose: they're not profitable you don't make them >> you can't afford to make them. >> rose: what's going to lap to this american art form? >> it's not going away. but we've gone from 178 movies made in 2008, 128 in 2008, 148 last year, 2009.
probably 130 this year. >> rose: but i see no optimism in terms of the future of what you have been talking about. telling stories like marty told in "the departed." a great story with two great actors. more than two. and marty did there like steven has done so many times. take one... won lots of awards, "schindler's list." do you see a market for those movies? >> always. >> rose: because they're good. >> they're not good, they're great. >> rose: here's my other question about this. you bring together you, david, steven. you guys didn't make as many good movies as we thought you were. which means it's not easy no matter... (laughs) take it away. >> well, it's not easy, you know? making movies is a very, very difficult, challenging and... >> rose: what's so difficult?
>> well, getting it right. telling a great story. no group of people come together spend a year, year and a half of their life, spend tens and tens and tens of millions of dollars with the ambition of making crap. >> rose: right. (laughs) i know. you don't set out to make a bad movie, do you? >> no one sets out to make a bad movie but somehow most movies-- two-thirds of them, 75% of them-- they're actually not great. now, interestingly, in the animation field, which has actually become the most successful genre, our whole processes is very different. we spend four or five years working on these stories. we have the ability to actually make them and remake them and remake them because they exist in story sketches before we actually spend a gazillion dollars to animate them. and, you know, you look at it and mostly we get it right.
and i think it is because our process allows us the time to actually find a great story and to find the heart of these characters. >> rose: the process does? how does the process do it? >> because it has got time and has the ability for you to see your work as a work in progress. fwlaz the live action business, you bring a cast of 12 or 15 actors together, you've got a crew of a couple hundred, you spaend trillion dollars, shoot it for 70 or 80 days. >> rose: so you are an enemy of actors, aren't you? >> i love actors. >> rose: that doesn't make a difference, if you're not going to be making movies where actors... >> we make them with actors. >> rose: you said voices. >> that's an actor, charlie. in a way i would tell you there's a greater challenge for an actor to be able to deliver the heart and soul of a character in which you only have your voice, you lose all of this.
50% of your communications to that audience, it is all of this. the voice is the other half. >> rose: i agree. i agree. is >> it's challenging. >> rose: but if you were the agent for an actor, you would have a hard time making that case to the actor. >> well, i've never had... i have to say not true. because there's almost not an actor that's ever said no. >> rose: but that's not the point. everybody wants to be part of that. but they'd rather be part of... >> that's not true. they love it. >> rose: but if animation is as successful as you intend to make it, is it going to take a piece of the pie and therefore there will be less movies made with live action? >> rose: no, because these movies take four or five years to make. it takes a huge amount of resources to do it. it is a limited pool out there. so, no, i think you'll see half a dozen of these movies a year out of 130, 140 of them. >> i'm going do a clip for "how to train your dragon." there it is. >> come on, let me out, please.
i need to make my mark. >> you've made plenty of marks, all in the wrong places. >> please, two minutes, i'll kale dragon, my life will get infinitely better. i might even get a date. >> you can't lift a hammer, you can't swing an ax, you can't even throw one of these. >> okay, fine, but this will throw it for me. >> oh! ow! see, now that's right here is what i'm talking about. >> but it's a mild calibration issue. >> if you ever want to get throughout to fight dragons you need to stop all this. >> but you just pointed to all of me. >> yes, that's it. stop being all of you. >> oh! >> oh, yes. >> you, sir, are playing a dangerous game. keeping this much raw vikingness contained. there will be consequences. >> i'll take my chances. >> rose: when you make the argument for the future of the movie business. what is it? what's the argument you make? >> well...
>> rose: of all kinds. live action, animation, story telling. >> well, i think that what has... what we've seen happen in the last ten years is a rate of info in administration? the home experience that's been breathtaking. giant flat screen t.v.s. >> rose: absolutely. >> sound, blu ray, amazing. and now what has come along in the last year is an in-movie theater experience that has taken the breath away of our audience, and it's called 3-d. >> so they're willing to get up and get in the car and go to the theater because the experience is that much different? from what they can get sitting at home? >> and better. and for the first time a decade attendance-- not box office-- attendance is actually up. more people are going to the movie theaters today than ever before. so that's about as... we've gone full cycle here. we've gone from movies being...
the movie theater being sort of a driving engine of hollywood to this cycle of television, cable, d.v.d. and now here we are back to the movie theater being the driver once again. >> rose: so... because of 3-d? >> yes. >> rose: the company that you had, what do you want to do with it? >> you know, what's happened for me in a sort of unpredictable way is that this little sovereign par dice called dreamworks animation is in a... just in such a wonderful place today, the movies are... they work, they... there's a good economic model for them, they're more popular today around the world than they've ever been before. the ability to take these movies
and take the intellectual property of them and do other things with them. so take a show to broadway or do a penguins of madagascar for nickelodeon, do an on line world of "kung fu panda." so there's so many things in the world to do with it that i have to say i'm having... >> rose: the time of your life? >> and the company is just on fire and people love coming to work there. it's driving through the gates of that studio coming to work everyday is a privilege. >> rose: the united states still remain ascent of the movie business, does it not? >> yes. >> rose: why haven't more people... you know, it's amazing good movies are being made around the world but the center of this business is still here. >> well, i think it's... i think people don't understand that our culture, our world, our society
that we live in is one that is so encouraging of expression we... all of us as children growing up, through our lifetime to express yourself, in any kind of art form, charlie, is something, charlie, in which there's a lot of encouragement in our world and our culture. and when you go travel around the world and we'll see the rest of the world, it doesn't happen in the same way. and there's something in the water supply in southern california, you know, and in that world that really sort of... i don't know, it just sort of shine it is sun on this in a way that produces a product that singular and unique. it's an accident when it happens somewhere else in the world. whereas it's an everyday
occurrence in california. >> rose: you know what i continue to be amazed by is that the notion that movies are such a cultural reference. when people want to make a point they will pick a movie character who said something or faced some scene and people remember that. "gone with the wind" or whatever it might be. >> well, movies are a common language. it's somethi we all share with one another and they are shared events when they come along and they grab everybody's attention and, you know, we all head off to see "avatar" and we all can't wait to talk with one another about that experience and about what it means or how it touched us or how exciting it is. you know, people can't wait to be the first one online when these moments come along and they are shared moments. >> rose: it's true. management success, there was an article in the "new york times"
magazine entitled "the benefit of a boot out the door." but you make very important points and while i have you here i want to review some of them. time is the single most valuable thing to almost all of us. the thing we all actually wished we had more of was time. i've never forgotten that. i'll always very fung which you will and when i'm not, i have high, high anxiety. >> well, it is. time is money and, you know, whether it's... >> rose: time is life. >> it is. and there's not enough of it and it doesn't matter whether it's literal lay taxi driver in which quite literally time is money, it's measured on that meter, to anybody that you come in contact with, friend, family, you know, time is the one thing that we just condition k not produce more of for ourselves in it. and your time is worth as much to you as my time is to me. >> rose: and i should respect that and vice versa? >> i think.
>> rose: what some people forget about you that you were an aide to john lindsay, the mayor of new york. >> yes. >> rose: great mayor who they're remembering here for film and some of the other things in the last several months. >> it was an amazing time, he was an amazing man. >> rose: this is in the '60s. >> yes. so literally that was my teenage years. >> rose: so why didn't you say in politics? why did you leave politics to go into the movie business? >> well, interestingly, age, believe it or not. i sort of... i worked as a teenager. that's why i didn't go to college because i was working at city hall when i was 18, 19, 20 years old. very quickly came to a place where, for my age, there really wasn't going to be a new challenge. >> rose: in politics? >> in politics. in 1972, lindsay ran for president of the united states and i had left city government to go work in that campaign and worked in florida and wisconsin. and it really didn't feel like
there was something more better to come back to. >> rose: in politics? >> in politics. and so i sought out to find a new career. >> rose: so what did you do? >> i actually first went to work for a producer by the name of david picker. >> rose: right. >> who had run united artist. >> rose: a very creative guy. >> very successful. another great mentor for me. david ended up introducing me to barry diller and that's how i got hired by barry. and then ultimately michael eisner came to paramount, they all worked together there. so in 1984 when barry left to go to fox and michael and i went to disney and so... here we are. (laughs) >> rose: what role was frank wells play in all this? >> frank was... well, one, was just an amazing and very selfless partner to michael and i though the whole management
team at disney. and he's very much the glue that held the place together. he was the one guy that we could all go to to be the peacemaker. >> rose: because michael respected him so much in >> yes, we all did. so frank was the mediator. he was the one that always said, no, you're wrong. and go apologize. or let it go. or whatever it was he was the mediator. he was wonderful. frankly, when he was out of the equation it all fell apart. >> rose: it was never the same. >> he was the glue. >> and history, as i understand it, is that frank was sort of under consideration to be the number-one guy and he understood that michael would be better at that and he would be better playing the role that he did. and that's how that combination came to be so powerful. >> in 1984 when the basss... the bass family went to take over
control over the disney company, their contact was frank wells and they approached frank and frank was the one who said i should go get michael eisner to do this. and michael's response was "great." but, you know, i want to kind of lead the team. and, frank, who was sort of meant to-- which just shows you what a remarkable and unique person he was-- said "you know what? that's fine. we'll... you be the lead guy, you be the c.e.o. and i'll be the c.o.o.." >> rose: he knew dhokd the kinds of things he wanted to do. >> they were a great partnership. >> rose: that shows you a remarkable amount of self-awareness. >> very. a real grown-up. >> rose: (laughs) >> a rare exception. >> rose: that's my point. >> in the world of hollywood. >> that's what i wanted to ask. that's a very good end question. where there not that many adults throughout? >> what are you kidding? (laughter) charlie, did you just fall off a hay wagon on your way into this studio snowed you're asking me
if there aren't that many adults in hollywood? what is the matter with you? (laughter) >> rose: all right, this is "shrek" which opens in a couple weeks. this is movie you're proud of, the movie that's the extension of the animation world of you. here it is. >> oh, flo. all right, rumple, there wasn't part of the deal. >> silly little ogre, everything's changed. i'm king now. >> this little piggy wants to go home! >> i've never seen you before in my life. >> it's me, your best friend. >> help! i've been kidnapped by a deranged ogre! >> fiona! i seem happy i found you! >> where did we find that guy? >> rose: puss? >> feed me.
if you dare. >> shrek! >> it's the end of my empire! get him! >> this may... >> tonight we attack. >> welcome to the resistance. >> i didn't know we could do that. >> prepare for the final chapter. >> get it, would you? >> and hold on for the greatest "shrek" adventure ever. >> puss and dong i do the rescue. i kind of like that the sound of that. >> donkey! >> "shrek: forever after" ind. >> donkey, can i borrow your tongue? >> say what? uh-uh. no, way. i don't care how big your eyes get, it's not doing down.
oh, all right. >> rose: jeffrey katzenberg for the hour. thank you, my friend. >> great being with you, charlie. only took us 20 years. >> rose: glad i got you finally. thank you very much. jux. >> rose: mckibben is here. 20 years ago he wrote "the end of nature" one of the first books on global warming for a general audience. since that time, he argues the issue of climate change has become more urgent. his new book is called "eaarth: making a life on a tough new planet." i am pleased to have him back at this table. welcome. >> very good to be here. >> rose: so tell me where we are in terms of climate change at this moment. >> we learned today from nasa and others that january, february, march, were the warmest january, february, march on record. nasa said it's virtually certain this will be the hottest year we know about. what's going on, the point of this strange title...
>> rose: yeah, look at this strange title. >> two as, you have to channel your inner schwarzenegger to pronounce it. the point is we're already living on a different planet. we're used to world we live in and anything that's going to change it in any significant way is hard. b, because fossil fuel is the most profitable industry ever known to man. and exxonmobil made more money each of the last three years than any company in the history of money. in our system that buys a lot of power the to delay, to deflect. >> rose: let me make sure i hear you clearly. if exxonmobil and others were not spending the money that they spend climate change... >> would still be the hardest thing we've ever had to face because we're going to have to make big changes that are uncomfortable and even with all the good will in the world it would be awfully hard. >> rose: why? >> because what's the heart of our economy? what defines modernity?
fossil fuel. that's how we built the world that we know. >> rose: okay, but even more so why? why is it so heart to move away from fossil fuel? >> because it's good stuff. it's rich in b.t.u.s, it's concentrated, it's easy to transport. the things that come after it-- say the sun or the wind-- are omnipresent but also diffuse and scattered. they require a different approach to the world. you can't have a few centralized power plants, you have to have an energy grid that looks like the internet with lots of people putting in and taking out. >> rose: do you believe most people understand the threat to the planet but find fossil fuel convenient so therefore don't take the threat as urgent? >> i think that's quite possibly. people tend, as i say in the book, to think this is going to be an issue for their grandchildren. it's not. it's an issue for us right now. >> rose: in the interest interest of our grandchildren. >> and in the interest of our own pitiful selves.
if we don't get things going pretty fast, there are already enormous consequences of climate change. that's with one degree of warming the scientists are clear that unless we get our act together soon we're looking at three, four, five degrees before the century is out. one degree melts the arctic. we don't want to know what three degrees does. >> rose: what does it do? >> the... a thousand different things. to me, one of the scariest pieces of day in earth is the understanding that crop yields, scientists now think, may fall 30%, 40% for corn, for rice, for wheat as we elevate. it turns out, those plants are just as evolved to the world that we know as we are. maybe more so. you can't change the most fundamental physical thing on the planet. how much energy there is in this narrow envelope of atmosphere, without enormous repercussions in everything from sea level rise to this spread of mosquitos
around the world to the increasing failure of crops. even now we look out across the western united states and see tens of millions of acres here and in canada of dead pine trees killed by pine bark beetles once kept in check by cold winter temperatures. we see place after place where the hundred-year flood now comes every three or four years. we see tremendous change already even in systems that 20 years ago we thought were too big to really be affected. i mean, the motion is 30% more acid than it was. think... the ocean is our metaphor for vastness. if we can screw that up, we're doing pretty well. >> rose: and what's the consequences of 30% more acid? >> well, it's already interfering with the ability of small marine organisms to form shells and things like corals to grow well. and if it keeps going like this, the coral reef researchers said recently, that entire ecosystem may be functionally extinct by
the middle of the century. >> rose: to change the debate, to make it more urgent, what has to happen? >> partly what has to happen is that environmentalists have to do a better job of spreading the word. of telling people what's going on. it's not impossible. last a small group of us drs me and a few college students-- founded a thing called 350.org, based on the number nasa had given us. the most carbon you could safely have in the atmosphere, 350 part per million. we organized what cnn called the most widespread day of political action in the planet's history. 5,200 simultaneous demonstrations in 181 countries. pretty much wherever that wasn't north korea, we were. that kind of thing has to really ramp up because we're never going to match the fossil fuel industry for money. we have to do it in other ways. >> rose: did al gore have it
exactly right? >> well, this is a moving target no one's ever going to have it exactly right. but al gore's had it basically right for a very long time. the scary thing about that book i wrote 20 years ago "the ends of nature," i mean, i've spent 20 years devoutly wishing that i was wrong on every count. the science is largely where we... where it was 20 years ago except that we now understand that the earth was more finely balanced than we dared imagine and things are happening faster. >> rose: you can't go anywhere without somebody saying "yes, but" and guess who said this? here's one example of that on this show by a very wise man. here it is. so what is your view on global warming. >> yes, i'm very skeptical about all the pronouncements that are made by the experts. i know how completely uncertain the subject is. so i would say just don't believe the experts. but i don't claim to be an expert myself so i won't argue with anybody about details and
i'm certainly not a spokesman for the opponents of the prevailing dogmas. i haven't given much time to it and i don't pretend to know what the real answers are. all i'm... what i know for sure is that most of the people who make pronouncements don't know, either. >> rose: all right. maybe you don't know. so let me ask some questions and you can say "i don't know." do you deny the world is getting warmer? >> no. >> rose: you don't deny? >> absolutely not. >> rose: it's clear the world is getting warmer. >> i went to greenland myself, where the warming is most extreme, and it's quite spectacular what you see in green l.a.p.d.. but what is also true is that the people there love it. the people there hope it continues. it makes their lives a lot more pleasant. >> rose: okay. but do you believe that if, in fact, there continues to be global warming in those regions that we will eliminate the ice and therefore there will be a rising of the walter level and therefore at some point it will
threaten us all? >> no, i don't believe that. the point is that the sea level has been rising for 12,000 years and it has nothing to do with global warming. >> rose: nothing? >> it's a separate problem. >> rose: but does global warming contribute to it? >> probably, but we don't know how much. and it's certainly not a... the main problem when you're dealing with a rising ocean. i mean, we know it's been going on for 12,000 years. we know it has very little to do with human activities. so it would be a great... just... it would be a terrible mistake to think you solve the problem of the rising association when you're only dealing with climate. >> rose: why can't we agree on the facts? >> well, the reason we can't agree on the facts is freeman die son said at the beginning "i'm not an expert and i haven't studied the science of this." the people who have, the actual
working scientists, not the kind of retired t.v. expert scientist are very clear on what's going on. the intergovernmental panel on climate change has told us that we're going to see sea level rise a lot farther than professor dyson is talking about in the course of this century. and in an odd way, all the kind of skepticism of the last year has done a good job of veting that science. for instance, the 3,000 page report of the governmental panel on climate change subjected to the most thorough and scathing vetting by every skeptic you can find in the last year, the one thing you can come up with is there was an incorrect date for the final melting of all the glaciers in the himalayas. that was it. the science is sound. >> rose: but it was seized on. >> absolutely. and very effectively. and people who don't want action taken are very, very good at this. and i think you've have had v to say in a sense they're winning
right now. >> rose: they're winning now? >> well, not taking action. the end, charlie, is the... it's not fundamentally... here's the point that has to get across and the point that i'm very hard to get across in "eaarth." it's not just a debate between republicans and democrats, conservatives and liberals, americans and chinese. fundamentally it's a debate between human beings on the one hand and physics and chemistry on the other. physics and chemistry don't blog. they don't care about... they've made their negotiating position known. 350 parts per mill c.o.-2. if you want a world anything like the one you've known. they're unlikely to bend. that's the world they we're waltzing into right now. >> rose: i still don't know how we change that reality of man versus physics.
>> maybe we don't. >> rose: does the president need to move this to a high priority? >> rose: that would help, the president so far hasn't spent much political capital on it and it would be very helpful if we spend some more. >> rose: his argument would be i'm spending political capital in so m other places. >> we've made priorities, we have to move this up the list. >> rose: it was on his priorities, just not the top two or three. >> that's correct. >> rose: there's this, too. the chinese have said... we're moving as fast as we can on alternative sources of energy but growth is very, very important to us. >> rose: it's funny, i'm headed off to china for national geographic in a couple of weeks. i think chinese haven't made up their mind yet. on the one hand, they're pursuing green energy with far more intensity than we are. on the other hand, they've got 600 million poor people still living out in the countryside, the cheapest try deal with them, to help improve their lives would be to burn that cheap coal they've got close to hand. i'm... you know, being president of the united states is a tough job, probably being premier of
china right now is an even tougher one because they're going to have to make very painful choices. we filled up the atmosphere over the last 200 years, there's not much margin for them to do it snuchlt they're making that argument, aren't they? >> they understand it all too well. >> rose: what's the alternative to economic growth? how do you make the case? >> that's one of the things that i nicaragua the book, new planets require new habits. our instinctive reaction to almost every problem for the last hundred years is we'll grow the economy larger and that will get us out of it. we're reaching the limits to growth people started talking about 40 and 50 years ago. i think what we're going to need to do is place less emphasis on expansion and start think about security... >> rose: expaengs of the economy? >> yes. and start thinking of security, stability. my guess is that the transition away from fossil fuel to more localized and dispersed forms of energy is going to move our
whole economy and society in the direction of a more localized economy. that the trajectory that's been heading relentlessly towards globalization toward quite a while is to turn the other way a little. >> i heard last night at dinner the man who know it is automobile industry and owns a lot of dealerships said to me "we can sell all the s.u.v.s we can get our hands on. we can't sell a hybrid. and it was exactly the opposite a year ago." >> well, the price of gas... i mean, sooner or later if we're going to solve this problem it will be because congress manages to put a price on carbon. that's what all these cap and trade, carbon tax... >> rose: what's the best way to do that? >> the best way is probably a plan that maria cant well and susan collins have proposed. it's called cap and dividend. it would put a fee on carbon so that exxon would have to pay a lot of money to put it into the system. exxon would pass that price on to you at the pump, but the cantwell/collins bill would just take that pot of money and
instead of giving it to congress to play with would just write a check to everybody in the country every month, the way that sarah palin used to sign checks for every in alaska every month. >> rose: that's a bipolar answer too. >> so far it seems like the... bipolar answer. >> so far it seems like that most logical bipartisan approach. >> let me bring up another approach. tom freedman said this on the show about other technologies. >> we don't... you know, we had a space race with the soviet union. who could be the first to put a man on the moon. what i want to see is an hert race with japan, with china, with india, with europe to see who can invent the clean technologies that will allow mankind to continue living here on earth in a sustainable way. because, you know, our mutual friend craig money di from microsoft, one of the people who succeeded bill gates, craig has a line in the book which i really like which he just says this problem is going to solved b solved by engineers, only the engineers. in other words, we're not going
to regulate our way out of this problem. >> it's a good point. it's one of the reasons why at 350.org we're launching a great power race on campuses in china, india, and the u.s., arguably the three most important countries in this field trying to get... find out what campuses can have the most and the most creative sustainability kind of projects going forward. we need to let the older leadership of these countries know that the energy and the intensity of youth are ready to go to work. that's a big part of the problem won't be unleashed in the scale that it needs to be until we put a price on carbon that begins finally to reflect the damage that fossil fuel does in the atmosphere. >> rose: why do you have two as here? >> because it's a new planet. it's kind of like that planet we know. it's... gravity still applies, we've got the same number of
continents but but it's already feeling different. that rain is coming harder, the sun is beating harder and the temperature is going up. if you look at it from a slate there's a lot less white on top where the ice is melted. this world is already changing fast and if we don't seize hold of every chance we get it's going to change a lot faster. >> rose: and at some point it will be too late? >> everything's realive the. it's already too late to stop global warming. we're stuck with... we've already raised the temperature one degree, there's another degree in the pipeline. at some point it will be too late for effective political action. if you melt most of that perm frost at the tundra and the methane, the ch-4 escapes into the atmosphere, there reaches a point where it won't matter who's president and how devoted congress is and it won't matter if we turn off every car in the world, the damage will be out of